Kirani James earned Grenada's first gold medal ever by winning the 400m on Monday. The small island country had plenty to celebrate, so the prime minister gave the residents the afternoon off. A half-holiday was declared across the country.
The celebration was not just for James' achievement, but for how it brought the country together and gave it a sense of pride.
"This is a fantastic achievement," said Richard Simon, press secretary for Prime Minister Tillman Thomas. "This has basically given Grenada a sense of presence in the international community that we didn't have before in the context of world athletics."
Grenadians were invited to a rally in James' hometown of Gouyave.
James has quickly become an Olympic favorite because of his grace on the track and off. After winning the semifinal, he switched bib numbers with Oscar Pistorius, and held the Blade Runner's name up to the crowd in a sign of respect. When James won the gold, he stopped to shake the hand of every competitor in the final before grabbing the flag of Grenada and celebrating.
He is already beloved in Grenada, and the 103,930 people there should be happy he represents them so well. They are also likely pretty happy that they got the afternoon off because of him.
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